Sep
09

Joba and the Yankees’ playoff choices

By

ALDSLogo138x115 A mea culpa: Yesterday afternoon, I mocked Jon Heyman for posting a note on Twitter concerning Joba Chamberlain. With little context, Heyman said that the Yanks could have a bullpen of both Joba and Phil Hughes for the playoffs, and I called that statement an unfounded one. I was wrong.

Because the team with the best record in the league can pick which Division Series schedule to play, the Yankees, nursing a 6.5-game lead in that race over the Angels, will probably get the luxury of that choice. Joba Chamberlain, of course, will play into it.

The Yankees’ choice comes down to one of days off. Take a look at the Division Series schedules. If the Yanks opt for the A series, they play five games in eight days and could bring back their games 1 and 2 starters in games 4 and 5. If they opt for the B series, they play five games in seven days and would either bring back their game 1 starter on three days’ rest or use a fourth starter.

At this point in the season, with his recent spate of poor pitching, Joba Chamberlain is nominally the fourth starter. That designation though is still very much up in the air and with 22 games left in the season, Chad Gaudin could potentially claim that spot or Joba could pitch his way out of it. If that is our playoff reality, then the Yankees would probably go with a three-man rotation and the A series. As an added bonus, Joba, facing an innings limit, would earn some extra rest with the A series.

If Joba can reemerge as the top flight starter we know he can be, it would behoove the Yankees to pick the B series. They wouldn’t need to burn their top two starters at the back end of the first round of the playoffs, and they would have a depth advantage over their potential opponents. Lights-out Joba as the fourth starter is nearly unparalleled throughout the rest of baseball.

The opponents, of course, matter. If the season were to end today, the Yankees would draw the Detroit Tigers in the first round. Giving them the A series would result in tougher pitching match-ups for the Yankees. They would have to face Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson in four of the five potential Division Series match-ups. If the Yanks draw the Tigers and choose the B series, the Tigers would have to throw Rick Porcello and Jarrod Washburn. Choices, choices, choices.

For his part, as Tyler Kepner reported, Joe Girardi is staying a bit mum. “There are two different division series,” the Yanks’ manager said. “In one, you need three starters, and in one you need four. I’ll just leave it at that.”

I’ll leave at this: It will come down to Joba. If he pitches well, the Yanks will want him in their rotation. If he doesn’t, they can avoid the question for a round and figure out how best to deploy him from the bullpen, if they are to use him in the Division Series at all. On the verge of October, it remains all about Joba.

Categories : Playoffs

164 Comments»

  1. Doug says:

    “If Joba can reemerge as the top flight starter we know he can be, it would behoove the Yankees to pick the A series.”

    Ben, you mean “B” series, right?

  2. “If Joba can reemerge as the top flight starter we know he can be, it would behoove the Yankees to pick the A series. They wouldn’t need to burn their top two starters at the back end of the first round of the playoffs, and they would have a depth advantage over their potential opponents. Lights-out Joba as the fourth starter is nearly unparalleled throughout the rest of baseball.”

    I think you mean to say “B series” in that paragraph.

    If Joba is showing signs of being a good starting pitcher able to go into the 6th and 7th by year’s end, we pick the B series (5 games in 7 days) that has fewer off days and thus requires either a 4th starter or short rest. If Joba looks like he’s only a bullpen guy, we put him in the pen and pick the A series and bring back CC for Game 4 with a 3-man rotation on normal rest.

    Copy?

  3. Side note, but an important one:

    We still should be stretching Joba out. I don’t want the availability of the A series and the fact that it doesn’t need a 4th starter causing the team to abandon the Joba as a starter idea and just leaving him in the pen for the rest of the year.

    Because even if the ALDS that we play in doesn’t need a 4th starter, the ALCS and WS most definitely will.

    Get Joba ready to start in the playoffs, even if he doesn’t end up starting in the playoffs. We need the flexibility.

  4. Makavelli says:

    I actually get My9 for whatever reason (don’t get YES although MLB thinks I do so everything gets blacked out…mlb package, ESPN, TBS, MLB Network, etc…but that’s besides the point – just venting.)

    Anyway, Flaherty was on last night and they were making comparisons between Joba and Price…as Tampa had the option to make Price their closer…yada yada yada…

    So Flaherty put in his 2 cents and said that he always viewed Joba as a reliever because he was a dominant one…where he’s not quite a dominant starter…as he is very good for a certain amount of innings but is far more wild and gets worse as the innings go on.

    Small sample size perhaps accompanied by “Joba Rules” that frustrate everyone including Joba himself…among other things that could contribute to all of this.

    • jsbrendog says:

      i loved how for about 2 full batters in the 5th or 6th inning there was 100% dead air andneither kay nor flaherty said anything…i was screaming at my tv like, are you kidding me??

    • What also contributes to it is Flaherty’s lack of understanding that during the regular season, a not-quite-dominant-but-still-good-starter is more valuable than a dominant reliever.

    • whozat says:

      “as he is very good for a certain amount of innings but is far more wild and gets worse as the innings go on.”

      Except that’s just not true…there are plenty of times where he labors early and then gets locked in later. He just loses his command sometimes and has no idea how to get it back. Sometimes he comes out with it and keeps it all game. Sometimes he finds it. But I don’t think he knows HOW to find it, it just falls into place some days. Until he figures out how to pitch on off-days, and how to right the ship when it starts to falter, he’ll struggle. Just like every other young pitcher ever.

    • Fun fact of the day:

      John Flaherty played for the Boston Red Sox (92-93), Detroit Tigers (94-96), San Diego Padres (96-97), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (98-02), and New York Yankees (03-05).

      He played on teams that had some very excellent closers (Jeff Russell, Trevor Hoffman, Roberto Hernandez, Mariano Rivera), but all those teams, with the possible exception of the 2003 Yankees, lacked a key ingredient that likely was the proximate cause for Flaherty’s career ending up ringless:

      Quality young starting pitchers to shore up the back end of the rotation and blossom into future front-end starters.

  5. alex gonzalez says:

    This would be my dream come true. having both Joba and Phil in the bullpen would be awesome. my only hope is that Joba hasn’t been ruined and can still pitch well as a reliever. the thought of a six inning game is awesome, hopefully someone like AJ doesn’t screw it up.

    • jsbrendog says:

      you need better dreams.

    • If we move CC to the pen for the playoffs, we could have five-inning games too. It’d be great.

      • jsbrendog says:

        then aj can start and JoMo can catch him and when aj comes out posada can go catch the next pitcher!!!1!11

      • alex gonzalez says:

        Has CC proven that he can be an unbelievably good starter? yes. has Phil or Joba proven that in the rotation? no. it only makes sense for people who haven’t proven themselves.

        • So what you’re saying is that pitchers who haven’t “proven” themselves to you don’t belong in the rotation? Has Burnett? He hasn’t been that good lately.

          It’s really just a spurious argument. In general, starters should be starting and not relieving. For the playoffs, the equation changes a bit, but not that much.

          • alex gonzalez says:

            burnett can be lights out though. he has proven himself throughout his career. joba proven himself far better in the bullpen. what is phil’s career era as a starter? how about as a reliever? same with joba?

            • whozat says:

              Yes, if you take good starters and put them in the pen, they will probably dominate. BECAUSE RELIEVING IS EASIER AND LESS VALUABLE THAN STARTING.

              How’d Greg Maddux look his first couple years? Randy Johnson? Jon Lester?

              • alex gonzalez says:

                how about matt anderson, kyle peterson, jeff austin, etc…

                • whozat says:

                  Were these talented guys who broke in at a tender age, showed success in the bullpen due to their talent, but (unsurprisingly) struggled in their early attempts at starting in the bigs?

                  because they just look like some nobodies to me, which means you completely missed the point.

                • alex gonzalez says:

                  they were hyped starters who never developed into anything like johnson, lester or maddux. just because they struggle as a starter early on doesn’t mean they will pan out, even if they are really hyped. im worried about ruining joba as a starter so that he turns into one of austin, anderson or peterson.

                • whozat says:

                  And it looks to me like none of them put up the kind of results in the minors that Joba or Phil did.

                  Basically, this is the “other prospects have sucked, so ours are going to suck” argument with some new trappings.

                  The point to take away here, essentially, is that struggling as a starter in the bigs at age 23 is not particularly predictive of future performance. The fact that the players in question HAVE SHOWED the ability to get big-league hitters out at all should steel the Yankees’ resolve to keep them as starting pitchers.

                  You, on the other hand can’t wait for your burrito to get out of this microwave.

                • Zack says:

                  so with your philosphy if a young prospect doesnt dominate in his first few starts he should automatically be sent to the bullpen?
                  and Yankees should only trade/sign starters who are 29-30 to 100m deals?

                • When I was younger, I was really good at pretending to be a fire engine.

                  Therefore, I should be a fire engine forever.

          • toad says:

            Alex is right. I mean, take a guy who is, say, 3-6 with 5.61 ERA at age 24. No chance of him being a successful starter.

            Try him in the pen and send him home if he’s no good there either.

        • jsbrendog says:

          so by this youre argument is that phil and joba have had enough chances/time to prove whether they can or can’t?

          really? i hope your kids/future kids get better odds at getting good grades…

        • whozat says:

          Bullshit.

          If every young pitcher who doesn’t dominate immediately is consigned to the pen, almost all pitchers would be relievers, with the exception of Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez.

          • Zack says:

            In their 2nd year as a full time starter:
            Verlander had a 4.84 era, 1.40 WHIP and .254 BAA
            Felix had a 4.52era, 1.34 WHIP and .262 BAA

            regression! go to the pen

    • A.D. says:

      But sometimes they do screw up, i.e. Phil last night, Joba in Cleveland.

    • Tom Zig says:

      Both Joba and Hughes in the bullpen? Yikes.

      You’re kidding right?

      Guys, please tell me I’m missing the sarcasm here.

  6. A.D. says:

    There’s actually the chance that depending on how quick the Yanks could win series they could actually go with 3 starters the entire postseason, and not start guys too many times on short rest:

    http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....ent-567858

    • jsbrendog says:

      yeah if girardi was any good as a manager he would just tell his guys to sweep every series so they only need 3 pitchers. but he won’t.

      seriously though, i pray to mo they beat everyone handily

  7. Kiersten says:

    How about we sweep the DS and then have CC go 3 games if needed in the CS and hope it’s not needed so that he can go 3 in the WS. No need for a 4th starter ever.

    /2001 Diamondback’d

    • We’re going to sweep the ALDS, ALCS, and WS in three games each.

      Game 4 of the ALCS and WS will be forfeits by the Angels and Cardinals.

      • Kiersten says:

        Red Sox and Cardinals.

        • Hah. That’s funny.

          The Red Sox in the ALCS… hilarious.

          • Kiersten says:

            Then Detroit. If the Yankees never play the Angels again it would be too soon.

          • Makavelli says:

            Unfortunately it just may be.

            They would seemingly play the Angels (like always)…only this time…their pitching is significantly worse than its ever been before. They’ll have their usual “bye” into the next round ala 2007 (after facing a broken down injury battered Angels team) and have their only tough series against the Yankees…fortunately during this chapter though…the Yankees sweep them in 4.

            • Kiersten says:

              This. The Yankees never beat the Angels, the Sox always do. So let them play them. The Sox don’t scare me for a second. They’re playing above their heads IMO. It works out perfectly.

              • Makavelli says:

                I don’t buy into what’s happened in the past all that much. Is it odd? Sure. But I don’t think it necessary means anything other than perhaps a small boost of confidence. The Angels beat us in the past with good pitching and slap hitting our bad pitching…the reason (other than 2002) they weren’t as successful against the Red Sox or White Sox is because they had good pitching that they couldn’t slap around.

                Right now the Angels has very good hitting…but not that great of pitching. The addition of Kazmir certainly helps them significantly though.

                The Red Sox, on the other hand, find ways to win. Their line up is talored to play at Fenway Park. Their OPS at home is .853 (before last nights game) and their OPS on the road is .751. That’s a SIGNIFICANT difference. They are also batting .254 as a team on the road, good for 10th in the AL. As a comparison, the Yankees are batting .285 as a team on the road…1st in the Majors.

                • Heh. You begin your statement with “I don’t buy into what’s happened in the past all that much”… and then proceed to bring up a bunch of old shit.

                  (Just ribbing ya a little.)

                • Makavelli says:

                  LOL. Well I don’t buy what has happened with teams filled with guys who aren’t on the team anymore.

                  The stats I provided are current with guys still on the team lol.

                  Even with that being said, we swept the Indians in the regular season series in 07′ and got crushed by them in the ALDS immediately in the playoffs…

                  …so I guess it’s all depends :/

                • Very disappointing, Mak, you left out the best response!

                  ‘You’re reading too much into the words that I chose to put on the page.’

                  (I keed, I keed.)

            • The worm has turned.

              Kendry Morales and the Ghost of Vlad Guerrero will hit eleventy jillion homers against that Sox pitching staff.

              • Kiersten says:

                I just want to play the Sox. Of the 3 teams in playoff position right now, they definitely worry me the least. Of course, there will be no complaints from me if Texas surpasses them and we draw the Rangers in the DS.

    • Makavelli says:

      If anybody is interested…HBO On Demand has “9 Innings from Ground Zero” the documentary on how the Yankees lifted the spirits of New York during the 2001 playoffs…if only for a few days. It’s great.

  8. misterd says:

    I’d go with the shorter schedule. We have a deeper team, deeper bullpen, than whomever we play, so why give our opponents a chance to rest?

    • Makavelli says:

      What’s funny about this rule is…we won the division and had the best record in baseball a slew of times over the 9 years we won the division…no rules were made in our favor. The Red Sox win the division ONCE in 2007 and they create a rule for them to take advantage of.

      Add that with the strange “coincidence” that news broke of Paul Byrd using steroids the morning of his ALCS start against the Red Sox (who were on the ropes) and you have a nice conspiracy theory…

    • Ace says:

      I agree. If our best starters cant beat their best starters then wee shouldn’t be paying them billions of dollars and we don’t deserve to win.

      • Makavelli says:

        If the scheduling option was meaningless then it wouldn’t exist.

        • Ace says:

          I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure it was created to optimize television ratings. Either way our top-flight, top-paid pitchers should be able to beat anyone. Especially with our ridiculous lineup behind them and a solid pen supporting them.

          Again, if we can’t beat their best then we don’t belong in the next round.

  9. Raf says:

    what happens if the Rangers somehow come back and take the WC? same conclusions as above? if Joba returns to form you definitely throw him against the Rangers i think.

  10. danthrax says:

    what makes you think that first series is going more than 3 games? :P

    • Exactly.

      Three straight three game sweeps. Nine wins, kiss the baby.

      • Makavelli says:

        The 1998 team even lost TWO games! And they’re statistically the greatest team to ever live.

        1998 Yankees : MLB History :: Axavelli : RAB

        lol

      • Ed says:

        Sweeping the Sox or Angles in the playoffs, NO WAY that happens, both those teams are just as good as the Yankees, and both historically beat the Yankees easily in the playoffs. The yanks are on a great run right now but many of their wins (including last nights) are being aided by a small ballpark that inflates their HR numbers. Come playoff time very few teams win it all with only the longball.

        Also their starters are not the strength some think they will be. Personally I only trust Sabathia. Pettitte will probably give a gutty start but he is always one little injury away from ineffectiveness. Burnett has never been in the playoffs, and been bad lately. And Joba…well he’s busy throwing 3 innings a clip right now so to expect him to be a dominate starter in the playoffs is totally unrealistic, expecting him to be serviceable is a stretch. And hoping the bullpen saves him is fine if the first three starters go 7+ innings, but that probably wont happen.

        But no matter what happens we can rest assured that not one critical word will ever be posted on this website about the yanks…they can do no wrong!

        • But no matter what happens we can rest assured that not one critical word will ever be posted on this website about the yanks…they can do no wrong!

          Ed: 1
          Strawman: 0

        • “But no matter what happens we can rest assured that not one critical word will ever be posted on this website about the yanks…they can do no wrong!”

          This must be your first time visiting RAB, in which case you are forgiven.

          http://www.adamriff.com/images/facepalm.gif

          • You’re too nice, Mondesi. (Dare I say… jolly?)

            NO COMMERCIALS, NO MERCY!!!!!!!!

          • jsbrendog says:

            you forgot OAKTAG too.

            and maybe for old times sake:

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        • But no matter what happens we can rest assured that not one critical word will ever be posted on this website about the yanks…they can do no wrong!

          You’re right. We’ve never criticized the Yanks for any of their moves. We’ve never bashed them for giving Melky 500+ PAs year after year or keeping Phil Hughes out of the rotation or mishandling Joba or the new Stadium and the Bronx parkland or the firing of Joe Torre. Nope. Nothing to see here. It’s all wine and roses.

        • Kiersten says:

          But no matter what happens we can rest assured that not one critical word will ever be posted on this website about the yanks…they can do no wrong!

          A) You obviously don’t read here much.
          B) We are, you know, Yankee fans.

    • Januz says:

      If they play Detroit, it will go 4 or 5 (Verlander is more than capable of beating the Yankees). Anaheim really scares me, this is a better team than the Yankees (Except for the bullpen of course). Abreu, Vlad, Morales, Hunter, Rivera are outstanding and they have the Yankees number. I hate to say it, but I actually think Boston gives the Yankees the best chance of making the series. If Boston wins then Yankees over Phillies.

  11. Dave M says:

    I hate to use the word “if”. But if we had a healthy Wang and Joba didn’t have this innings limit, I think this years team just might be on par with the 1998 team.

  12. Ed in SF says:

    Hey Kabek – on top of your mea culpa to Heyman, how about a hat tip for the RAB reader who pointed out the fact that the Yankees may get to choose series A vs B (and therefore get to use 3 starters on regular rest in the ALDS?)

  13. [...] could end up playing a big role in which series the Yankees elect to play in. That’s because, according to Ben Kabak of River Ave Blues, an effective Joba would give the Yankees a big edge over the Tigers when it comes to depth of [...]

  14. [...] You can see the postseason schedule here (props to RAB). [...]

  15. miketotheg says:

    I swear i have been having this same discussion for the past few days.

    For my money, this year, right now, Joba is an extra part. CC is going to throw on short rest in the alds and Job wont throw a pitch till the ALCS.

    Is he going to start? OY VEY. At least we have aceves.

    I wonder which burnett will show up at the playoffs? no hitter burnett or “screw you jorge i wanna throw my hook” burnett.

  16. mryankee says:

    I think if its Detroit you have to avoid Verlander and Jackson 4 out of five games. I know the homers will blast for me for having the gall to say the Tigers have a shot here but the reality is there front two are really good. I think CC is adecent matchup against Verlander and good AJ mathches up well with Edwin Jackson. However if Joba has to make a start then he really needs to pick it up the Tigers offens though not nearly the Yankees quality, can throw some bats at you. Granderson, Polanco, Huff, Cabrera and Carlos Guillen.

      • mryankee says:

        no idea what that means I only bring verlander up because he is the ace pitcher on the team we would be facing in round one. To make you happy though I will say he sucks cannot win and will choke. NOW I am in line with most of the people in here. I mean verlander and Jackson are jokes since AJ has been so consistent, there is nothing to discuss-when you shutdown a lineup without Zobrist-Crawford-Bartlett and thats the best start in a month or so from your #2 starter then all is well. So much for objective discussion.

        • You’ve set up yet another strawman, mr yankee. All you do is complain about the Yankees shortcomings. We’re sick of it. They don’t have the best record in baseball for no reason.

          Instead of bitching about the Yanks, why don’t you go learn something about other teams?

          • mryankee says:

            I am not at all bitching I am being realistic. I was the first one after Joba pitched well against Tampa Bay to say how wrong I was about him. I always say how much I want the Yankees to win all I am doing is trying to be objective. I have said time and time again that the Yankees are superior to Detroit but I am saying detroit has two very good starting pitchers and that is sometning of a concern.

            • Yes, it is a concern. We all know this. But you go around talking like it’s a foregone conclusion that the Tigers will take out the Yanks in the first round. That’s what’s annoying.

              In other words, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it and the frequency with which you say it.

              Also, Jackson has had a ho-hum second half. Please remember that.

            • Bo says:

              how does Joba factor into this at all if you’re talking about how great Verlander is?

        • There’s nothing wrong with objective discussion.

          I was just commenting on your gigantic mancrush on Justin Verlander.

          I like him too, he’s a great pitcher. Yes, he’s capable of beating any team on any day, including ours. You just don’t need to bring him up at every single instance on every single comment. I’ve heard nothing but Verlander, Verlander, Verlander from you for months.

          • mryankee says:

            For that I apologize I think its because I see detroit as our first round opponent. I also think I saw him and Joba’s careeers and possible stuff as being comprable.

          • Did you know that Edwin Jackson was born in West Germany? How weird is it to say that?

            • mryankee says:

              Fair enough I can cool off on detroit-I think fr me in the past I have been overconfident that the Yankees being the better team would beat thir first round opponent. This year I was trying to be more wary of who we are facing. Yes I agree with everyone-the yanks are much better overall and all things being equal they should win the series.

  17. Bo says:

    Not much of a choice.

    Verlander Jackson twice or Porcello Washburn

  18. Arliss says:

    Ben – you noted that in series A, the yanks would have to burn their top two starters at the end of the series. While I agree with that, it really doesnt matter in the scheme of things because here is what will happen in the ALCS:

    8 day series: we pitch CC, Andy, AJ in Games 1,2 and 3…..with CC in Game 4 and Andy in Game 5.

    This leaves AJ to start game 1 of an ALCS and CC to start Game 2 on regular rest. Andy would start game 3 on regular rest. Game 4 would go to Joba/Gaudin. If it goes 7 games, Pettitte pitches Game 7 after AJ and CC throw games 5 and 6.

    Then there are 2 off days before the WS starts anyway so your Game 5 ALCS starter is going on an extra days rest to start the WS.

    Obviously, Andy/AJ can be flip flopped, but I chose to go this way because Andy in Game 5 of the ALDS makes me more comfortable.

  19. Arliss says:

    4 IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 3K vs Boston
    6 IP, 9H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 3K vs KC
    6 IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 5K vs Oakland
    6.1 IP, 8H, 4R, 4ER, 4BB, 3K vs Anaheim
    5 IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 6K vs Cleveland
    8 IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 4K vs Tampa

    This guy doesnt scare me. Jackson – last 6 starts.

  20. [...] The AL East standings show the Yankees nine games ahead of the Red Sox and 17.5 games ahead of the Rays. The class of the AL have a 99.6% chance of making the playoffs. With their magic number at 15 (see at right), at least some Yankee fans are looking to the playoff schedule: [...]

  21. [...] Yankees, as we noted earlier this week, will have a choice to make between the longer and shorter ALDS schedule. One will allow them to start CC Sabathia and Andy [...]

  22. [...] could end up playing a big role in which series the Yankees elect to play in. That’s because, according to Ben Kabak of River Ave Blues, an effective Joba would give the Yankees a big edge over the Tigers when it comes to depth of [...]

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